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India strike early
26 Dec 2006
By: Zac Gelman


India have wrestled control of day one in their second Test match against South Africa with superb performances by S. Sreesanth and Anil Kumble. South Africa averted a similar style collapse that was seen in the first Test, with Prince, Gibbs and Boucher all performing with the bat, ending the day on 257/8.

Coming off their first ever defeat to India at home, the signs were ominous for South Africa with the bad news of Jacques Kallis, their premier batsman, ruled out for the match with a back injury.

Winning the toss and electing to bat, South Africa were immediately in trouble with Smith out in just the second over. Continuing his poor form, the Proteas captain edged a Zaheer Khan delivery straight to Sachin Tendulkar, gone for a mere five runs.

Khan struck again soon after, removing Smith's replacement Hashim Amla, plumb LBW, for a solitary run. Memories of their first Test collapse would have been firmly in the mind of the Proteas, the score a meager 13-2.

India continued the assault. Bowling tightly and with purpose, so much so that the next wicket was never far off. The next victim, AB de Villiers edged a fuller Sreesanth delivery to Tendulkar at first slip, gone for nine. At 28-3 early on the first morning, it was safe to say that nothing was going South Africa?s way.

Fortunes changed however, as India allowed themselves to take their foot off throttle. Poor field placing, and the bowlers tiring, South Africa were able to claw their way back into the game. A century partnership between Mark Boucher and Ashwell Prince was added to a fighting 63 from the out-of-form Gibbs. All that stood in their way was the emerging Indian paceman S.Sreesanth who continued his impressive bowling streak, removing both Gibbs and Boucher.

Gibbs, who was demoted down the batting order during the week in response to his on-going poor form, edged a Sreesanth ball to the keeper Dhoni, who took a good diving catch. Boucher, who had just reached his 50, was deceived by a fuller Sreesanth delivery that crashed through middle and off stump.

Prince played a superb workmanslike innings that was helped by a little luck ? being dropped by Tendulkar on 41. Overnight he was 98 not out, holding the forte for South Africa.

Shaun Pollock, threatened to take the game out of India?s control when he came to the crease and immediately hit two splendid fours. A drive he intended to hit into the crowds was, however, was wonderfully intercepted by Sehwag at point, coming off a good Vikram Singh spell.

An excellent googly by Anil Kumble saw the next man in, Andrew Hall bowled for a duck and the tail exposed. An exact replica of the delivery that got Hall saw Kumble take the wicket of Andre Nel just three balls later.

The fortunes of the match changed throughout the day. India had the early breakthroughs but South Africa, to their credit where able to fight their way back into the game, still short of what they would consider a good total, but they will be well aware that it could have been a lot worse at 28-3 earlier in the day.

India at stumps were in control of the match and will be looking to add to their first ever Test win in SA with a first ever Test series win there.

South Africa 257/8
Ashwell Prince 98*, Herschelle Gibbs 63, Mark Boucher 53
S. Sreesanth 74-3, Anil Kumble 48-2, Zaheer Khan 61-2


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